Minnesota has proven that even with a divided legislature (one of the only in the country), compromise can still be reached in order to build a better state. We were able to come together this year and produce a budget that delivers on investments in our students, more affordable health care, and economic security for our families and neighbors. The nature of compromise is that not everyone gets everything they want, and while some very important priorities didn’t make the cut, this is still a budget that moves us forward.
Here are some of the highlights of our work from the 2019 Legislative Session:
Every Minnesotan deserves access to high-speed broadband internet service, but businesses and students in rural communities have had to work with the difficulties of slow internet speeds. In this year’s budget, House Democrats were able to secure a new $40 million investment in border-to-border broadband to help our businesses compete and help students succeed in an economy that is ever reliant on high-speed internet.
In Minnesota, 39,000 employees are a victim of some form of wage theft every year. The vast majority of employers pay their employees, but some steal wages by not paying for overtime or making other paycheck deductions. Workers deserve an hour’s pay for an hour’s work, and in response to the Minnesotans who asked us to hold accountable those who take advantage of their employees, we passed the toughest wage theft prevention and enforcement laws in the nation.
Our state is a special place to live, and Minnesotans want it to remain that way for generations to come. We all deserve to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and enjoy beautiful parks and the great outdoors. This year, Democrats took action to keep our environment and proud outdoor heritage healthy and strong by addressing invasive species, chronic wasting disease, pollinators, and funding the Department of Natural Resources. This budget is a bipartisan compromise, and Democrats will keep organizing, educating, and mobilizing Minnesotans in support of a healthy environment.
In the Minnesota House, we fought hard to freeze tuition for students enrolled at University of Minnesota and Minnesota State campuses, but Senate Republicans blocked it during budget negotiations. The new higher education budget produced makes some investments in college affordability, but more needs to be done. We need to do more work to ensure all Minnesotans have access to quality higher education and job training, and I’m committed to continuing this work.
Improving Our Elections
In what was supposed to be an early victory this legislative session, authorizing the use of federal funds for elections security ended up being one of the last things we agreed to. All year long, Senate Republicans blocked the Legislature from authorizing a $6.6 million federal appropriation to improve cybersecurity and protect our elections from hackers, foreign governments, and other bad actors. The Minnesota House approved the entire appropriation early this year, and were successful in pressuring Senate Republicans to end their obstruction thanks to your support. As a result, Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon is already making use of these new federal dollars to protect your private voter data and fortify our best-in-the-nation elections system against people who seek to hurt our democracy.
An elections provision that didn't make the cut this year was my bill to improve Minnesota's special elections. Having crafted this bipartisan bill in partnership with Secretary Simon, it was disappointing to see these improvements blocked by some Republicans in the Senate. I'll continue to work to ensure that our elections are open and fair, especially in rural communities.
Opioid addiction has devastated families and communities throughout our state for years. Minnesotans have been asking state lawmakers to hold the opioid industry accountable for a public health crisis they helped create and continue to profit from. With your support, we were able to establish new fees on manufacturers and distributors to provide funding for treatment, prevention, and soaring public safety costs.
Drug Pricing Accountability and Transparency
Everyone deserves access to affordable health care, and that includes prescription medications. In response to soaring prescription drug costs and heartbreaking personal stories, House Democrats got tough on middlemen who drive up the price of medications. This year, we enacted sweeping oversight to improve drug pricing transparency and accountability.
Keep In Touch!
The Legislature is adjourned until February 11, 2020, but feel free to reach out during the interim with your questions, comments, or solutions on how we can make our community and Minnesota stronger. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (651) 296-4308. I look forward to hearing from you.